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How to Write a Literature Review

December 10, 2017 Essay writing tips, Types of essays
How to Write a Literature Review

Table Of Contents

What It Is?

“What is a literature review?” is one of the most commonly asked questions by students. A literature review is an in-depth analysis of published sources, articles, and literature on a particular subject. This is an assessment of the literature with the future summary, categorization, comparison, and evaluation.

To understand how to do a literature review, you must comprehend the overall purpose. The purpose is simple: this type of paper is usually written by students to show their understanding of a particular topic. You are going to show your understanding by:

  • Providing analysis of key points
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses of the research
  • Identifying gaps in the research
  • Identifying any weak evidence
  • Give a strong background of a research

It’s important to know how to write a literature review. It must include the following things:

  • Goal of the writing
  • Overview of the subject which is under analysis
  • Clear sorting of sources that were taken for research
  • Coherent evaluation of sources and literature

Point to include in literature review

Literature Review Format & APA

The format you use should adhere to the citation style preferred by your instructor. You must seek clarification from your instructor on several other things to establish the desired literature review format.

  • How many sources should you review and what kind sources should they be (published materials, journal articles, websites)?
  • What format should you use to cite the sources?
  • How long should the review be?
  • Should your review consist of a summary, synthesis, or a personal critique?
  • Should your review include subheadings or background information on the sources?

If you want your paper to be formatted in APA style, then follow these rules:

  • Include a header at the top of every page (using capital letters). The page header must be a shortened version of your essay title and cannot be more than 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
  • The title page should include the name of the paper, author’s name and the institutional affiliation. Your title must be must be typed with upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper part of the page. Try to fit in 12 words avoiding abbreviations and useless words.

Writing a literature review will require a lot of your effort and attention. Follow the proceeding steps to get started.

Review The Literature

Before reviewing, it is important to understand objectives and an expected result of a review. The first step you need to take is to understand what materials you will need to research in order to write a review. Commonly, you will be given directions on where to find necessary, a trustworthy material that you can rely on when writing your literature review.

Secure yourself and use this help. If the booklist were not given, then read only reliable and authoritative sources, there are a variety of academic and scholarly sources that you may find necessary to adopt. In case you are writing an extensive review, you might find it necessary to read published documents, reports, journal articles, government documents, web sources, etc.

Literature Review Outline

Before you start writing your paper, it is important to create a plan including all the concepts, findings, and ideas that you would like to mention in your review. When you start writing an outline, ensure that you’ve included everything you want to talk about. This small tip will help you stay on track.

Besides ideas, concepts, findings, etc., your outline must include the following:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Conclusion

You can outline your paper in different ways, but the best thing you can do is to follow a good template that will guide you in writing your literature review.

Literature Review Template


  • Describe in your introduction the topic that you are going to investigate; why it is valuable to the field of study?
  • How well is the topic researched today
  • Identify main themes and methods that will be used for research.


  • Study A: the issue, main point, conclusion
  • Study B: the issue, main point, conclusion
  • Study C: the issue, main point, conclusion


(Sum up your review wrapping up by the restatement of the thesis)

  • What are the strengths?
  • What are the weaknesses?
  • What can be done to research the topic further?

How to Write a Literature Review

Start your review by writing the thesis statement. This is the most important introductory sentence that should be based on the topic of your research. In one sentence you must show the reader what your review will be about and present the overall outlook on the argument you are going to present. As every piece of writing, a literature review must have an introduction, body, and a conclusion.

TIP: Remember, a literature review is not a place for your strong personal opinions or emotive language.

  • It must be written in a formal style.
  • It should be clear and concise, without any personal language.

Applying Final Touches

Before submitting your literature review make sure to:

  • Determine the goal of the review
  • Organize materials according to issues
  • Identify gaps in the literature
  • Analyze your readings
  • Write an introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Check the punctuations and spelling

Things to check before submitting your literature review

Good Examples

The best way to learn how to write any type of paper is to learn from an example. It could be challenging to find a great literature review example. Luckily, we have selected a few good examples to share with you.

Example #1
Literature Review Example

Example #2
Literature Review Example

Example #3
Literature Review Example

Writing Tip From Our Professional Team

Literary analysis is a challenging essay to write. While writing an essay of this kind, it’s important to spend a lot of time drafting and outlining beforehand. When writing about literature, the most vital tip I can give you is to make sure to write your piece as if the reader of your writing has already read the work that you are discussing. Literary analysis is NOT a book report. Do not include plot summary in your essay. While writing, stick to exclusively analysis. Another handy shortcut to writing these essays is to focus on questions such as “What was the author’s intent” and “what effect does it have on the reader”. The article mentions the importance of an argument. An argument is the main claim of your essay. In literary analysis, it’s extremely important that you articulate your claim in your thesis and refer back to your thesis at the end of each paragraph/main point that you make. This will alleviate any confusion that the reader could have about your paper.

Dr. Joshua (PhD), online essay writer from EssayPro

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